OXNARD, Calif. -- Tight end Jason Witten set the tone of the Dallas Cowboys training camp when he arrived in Oxnard on Saturday saying it's time for the Cowboys to have a new championship ending to the season and it can't be the same old story again.
"Our actions have to be louder than our words," said Witten, after arriving at Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California. "If we are going to be the team we think we can be, we have to go show it."
He has not backed down or backed up since. Witten is simply tired of the yearly emotional roller coaster.
He is tired of the preseason hype and the end-of-season disappointment and bitterness.
He is tired of the mediocrity. He is tired of the playoff failures.
Witten said he believes the Cowboys are ready for a breakthrough, and he believes the group that has suffered through the failures has learned from its past mistakes.
He said the Cowboys are a better team because of the additions they made in the off-season.
He also said there are many who continue to doubt the team's mettle and question its ability to get the job done when it matters most.
Witten says the Cowboys have to do it on the field, starting with Sept. 5's season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
"None of y'all are believing it. Why should you be? An 8-8 record is not good enough," Witten said. "I believe in the men we have. I believe we work the right way. But, ultimately, we didn't make the playoffs last year."
Witten's attitude and perspective are important because he along with quarterback Tony Romo are the longest tenured members of the team. No one has endured more tough times.
No one is also better equipped at being the enforcer for coach Jason Garrett and his do-it-the-right-way, one-day-at-a-time edict.
Tight ends coach John Garrett said Witten is the ultimate team leader because his focus is the same in March as it is in August.
"His focus is to be the best player he can be and to help the team be the best it can be," John Garrett said.
That is why when Witten spoke about not having this season end with the same old story and the need to let the players' actions do the talking everybody fell in line.
"Witten's comments, without me speaking for him, stem from the fact that as the leader on this team over the course of the last eight, nine, 10 years, he's a guy who understands we've been close at different times," Garrett said. "It's a bottom-line business. I think our team understands that."
Nobody understands it more than Witten, who was equally defiant about his own career. Witten was a third-round pick in 2003 and has put together a potential Hall of Fame career. He said his career would not be complete without a title.
"It has been a heck of a run," Witten said. "But it's time we grab it."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.